One of the most insidious trends in anti-choice legislation are bans on “sex-selective” abortion, which prevents abortion providers from performing abortions sought because of the sex of the fetus. These bans open the door for politicians to further intrude into the personal health decisions of women.  They set a dangerous precedent for defining what reasons are or are not acceptable for women seeking an abortion and could lead to even more restrictions on access to safe, legal reproductive health care for women. Since 2009, 21 states and the federal government have all considered bans on the practice of sex selective abortion. Eight states have enacted bans, with seven currently in effect.

Anti-choice activists point to skewed birth ratios in some parts of Asia, which indicate that more female than male fetuses are terminated, to advocate for these laws; however, recent census data shows that foreign-born Indian-, Chinese-, and Korean-American women actually have more girls overall than white Americans. Rather than creating proactive solutions to gender discrimination, sex-selective abortion bans further entrench gender inequality by creating barriers to abortion access, especially for women of color. Simultaneously, they perpetuate racist stereotypes about Asian immigrant communities and create the potential for discrimination against Asian-Americans seeking abortion care by forcing providers to question their patients’ reasoning for terminating a pregnancy.

Local pro-choice activists and champion elected officials, supported by the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, have begun fighting back with local resolutions exposing these state bans as racist and anti-choice. These resolutions provide local advocates with both the opportunity to educate the public and to take a stand as a local community against harmful state legislation. The National Institute for Reproductive Health stands with communities around the country that speak out against these laws.

Learn More about Sex-Selective Abortion Bans

In December 2015, the New York City Council introduced a resolution denouncing sex-selective abortion bans. The resolution focused on the racism inherent in these bans, the harm they cause to provider-patient relationships, and the barriers they create to vital abortion access. Councilmember Margaret Chin led the effort to introduce the resolution, and it was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Laurie Cumbo and Elizabeth Crowley. Planned Parenthood of New York City, a local leading reproductive healthcare provider and public policy advocate, helped lead on-the-ground efforts to mobilize support around the resolution.  The resolution is currently awaiting a hearing and vote.

  • Read the resolution here.
  • Councilmember Chin issued a press release after introducing the resolution.
  • NAPAWF published a statement praising the resolution’s introduction, cosigned by Planned Parenthood of New York City and Sakhi for South Asian Women.
  • NAPAWF Executive Director, Miriam Yeung and New York City Councilmember Chin co-authored an op-ed about the importance of this resolution and its effects on the City of New York and New York State.
In March 2015, Oakland’s City Council passed a resolution opposing sex-selective abortion bans. Nearly identical to San Francisco’s resolution, it denounced the discriminatory nature of the bans and called on the California Legislature, as well as other governments, to reject any legislation that would enact a ban. It further directed the Oakland City Administrator to direct the City Lobbyist to advocate against sex-selective abortion bans. Forward Together, a multi-racial organization working at the community level to transform culture and policy for social change was an important advocate in getting this measure approved.  The measure was approved 7-1, with seven in favor and one Councilmember excused.

  • Read the resolution here.
  • NAPAWF issued a statement praising the resolution’s passage, with an extensive list of supportive organizations.
  • NAPAWF also sponsored a drive to collect thank-you letters for Councilmembers after the resolution passed.
  • NAPAWF Executive Director, Miriam Yeung and Forward Together Executive Director, Eveline Shen, co-authored this op-ed on the importance of the resolution.
In September 2014, San Francisco became the first US city to pass a resolution opposing sex-selective abortion bans. The Board of Supervisors measure came after a sex-selective ban was introduced, and failed in committee, in the California Legislature. Board President Chiu, who introduced the resolution, spoke about the racist nature of these bans, and the potential barriers they create to abortion access for women of color in a press release. Accordingly, the resolution focused on racism and the disproportionate impact of these bans on Asian-Americans. It also mentioned California’s proposed state-wide ban and urged the Legislature to defeat any such measures. More broadly, the resolution called on other cities, states, and the federal government to defeat such measures, displaying the power of local resolutions to voice a community’s stand on wider issues.  The resolution passed unanimously.

  • Read the resolution here.
  • Huffington Post, San Jose Mercury News, and RH Reality Check covered the resolution’s introduction.
  • NAPAWF and the Trust Women Silver Ribbon Campaign issued a statement supporting the resolution.NAPAWF Executive Director, Miriam Yeung and Assemblymember David Chiu, formerly the President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, co-authored this op-ed on the importance of the resolution.
  • NBC News covered the resolution’s passage.